A modern au wherein Riven is a former gangster trying to make a living as a bartender and Irelia is a cop more than vaguely familiar with her exploits. Disaster ensues.

[RI]

She can do this.

She can.

And just like every other time, her blood quickens and she checks that her collar is still up.

And then Riven paints a smile on and sets the tumbler down in front of the cop. Not that she's wearing a badge, but Riven knows a cop when she sees one, and anyway she's griped about enough to confirm that.

Also, she responds to, "Officer," with a dismissive wave.

So Officer Lito sits on her stool at the bar and drops a folder on it, right where Riven's just spent five minutes making sure is clean. Lito has standards in this, and she will politely (but firmly) request that Riven wipe it down to her satisfaction. And she will, because her boss is clear on this: Lito is a friend, and welcome in this house (the fact that the house is a bar notwithstanding).

Fortunately, aside from that, Lito is more of a fixture than a patron. She doesn't care to talk often, a relief after a few hours of listening to woes and suffering terrible attempts at getting in her pants. Riven studiously avoids whatever she happens to be reading on a given day - made easier because she still isn't very good at reading Ionian, and she's no chance in hell at doing it upside down.

(Which isn't to say she's never recognized anything, it's a little hard to miss Lady Guillotine, even if she's never seen it on paper)

An hour later, Riven sets a glass of water down in front of her and takes the empty tumbler. Lito usually packs up and leaves before Riven's shift ends.

Today she watches as, five minutes before she has to leave to catch her bus, Lito packs up and then rests her chin on her hands and stays. She isn't looking at Riven, but she checks her collar anyway.

Riven steps outside. The night air isn't so cold as to sting her lungs, but it's not winter yet. She tugs her hood up anyway, and trudges toward the bus stop.

The last bus of the night is rarely on time, and tonight she waits ten minutes for it.

[RI]

Riven pauses outside the door of her apartment. It takes a minute or two, but there comes the meow she's expecting.

The cat has seen better days. The tip of its left ear is missing, and though its long fur hides it pretty well it's on the thin side. There's a kink in its tail that curves off to the left. The whiskers on the right side of its face are half the length of the ones on its left. The black-and-grey tabby looks up at her and meows again.

(Perhaps meowing is the wrong word. It sort of squeaks and stutters, and really it sounds more like a chirp)

A quick glance over her shoulder assures Riven that her landlord is, once again, not there to see this. She kneels, and fishes around in her pocket for the saucer and sets it down just beside her doormat. The cat looks at it, then back up at her.

Riven unlocks her door, leaves it open, and pulls the carton of milk from her fridge. The expiration date is still a couple of days away, but she sniffs it just to make sure. The cat is waiting for her, sitting in front of the saucer with its crooked tail wrapped around its feet. She pours a measure and sits down in the doorway, resting her chin on her knees and watching as the cat laps at it.

There's still a film of milk on the bottom when the cat steps away. It purrs, a deep rumbling accompanied by a bit of drool leaking from its mouth. It deigns to rub along her extended hand as it passes, and then turns around to get the other side.

Then it heads for the corner of her building, and Riven collects the saucer to wash.

[RI]

Her alarm goes off at precisely eleven forty-five. Riven rolls off her mattress, stumbles over to her fridge, and punches the fucking thing to shut it up. It doesn't, so she swings at it again and this time she actually hits the button.

It's a straight shot from there past her door to her shower. She opens it up full blast, and sticks her head under the frigid water for a half second. Riven shivers as it drips from her hair down her back.

On her way back to the fridge, she opens her door to stop the scratching. The cat jumps back off the mat when it opens. Another saucer, another measure of milk, and Riven sits in her doorway again to watch while her shower heats up. When it's done, the cat butts its head against her hand, and allows her to scratch behind its intact ear for a few seconds before padding away again.

Her water's scalding hot now.

[RI]

She doesn't need extra cash for rent this month. Just to eat.

So Riven sets out. She rides the bus an hour out, only paying enough attention to where she's going that she gets off in a moderately run-down neighborhood, much like her own. The bus driver actually asks her if she's sure, which she takes as a pretty good signal that yeah, this is where she wants to be.

It takes a little longer than she'd really like, but she finds a court with four guys on it who are all huge in that way that might be steroids and might just be spending a lot of time in the gym. They're fucking around in what's less a game of two-on-two and more a game of who can pull a cooler trick off.

Intercepting the ball is pretty easy when one of them tries bouncing it off his own backboard to pass it to his teammate.

She takes a couple steps back, dribbling slowly.

"You want somethin'?" one of them asks.

"Lookin' for a game," Riven says. "Got room?"

The speaker takes a couple of steps toward her. He's got at least eight inches on her, and his tangled mass of jet black hair falls nearly to his waist. "Girl," he says in a voice crawling with annoyance, "It'd be a slaughter."

Riven smiles up at him. "Wanna bet?"

She may not be the best at basketball, but Riven's really fucking good at cheating.

[RI]

The big dude is good, and it's closer than she'd like, but in the end she's still ahead by two baskets.

"Thanks," she says when she stoops to collect the cash off the bench. She's waiting for it, so when the shuffling sound of feet sliding across concrete she jerks back and twists.

But either he knows how to fight or he's practiced cold cocking people, and his fist connects with her mouth anyway. Riven slams into the wall and tastes blood.

"Thanks," he says.

Riven shoves off the wall, crosses the six feet to where he's crouched to collect the money she dropped in two steps, and stomps as hard as she fucking can on his ankle. The big dude screams and collapses, clutching at it. She drives her toe into his diaphragm and he stops screaming.

The rest of them pause. Riven looks at each of them in turn, and wipes the back of her hand across her mouth, then tugs on the shoulder of her shirt and rolls her neck.

The way they stare at the top half of the Lady Guillotine scar creeping up her neck is so very familiar.

"He had to go and fuck it up," she says. "All y'all are smarter than that though, right?"

When none of them move, she squats to collect her winnings.

Her boss is going to be pissed.

[RI]

Ahri spends fifteen minutes chewing her out, and then five with a tin of makeup doing her best to make it less obvious that her lip's still swollen.

[RI]

Lito catches her hand as she swaps the tumbler for a glass of water. Riven's blood goes from racing to ice in her veins.

A moment of digging around in her pocket produces Lito's silvery cylinder. She shifts her scarf aside, presses it up against her throat, and in her flat, mechanical voice asks, "What happened?"

Riven forces a careful smile that she still has to back off before her lip starts bleeding again. "I got sloppy with a basketball," she says.

Lito's lips pull into a thin line, but she lets it and Riven go.

It takes all the composure she can muster to walk away instead of bolting for the door. Riven checks her collar in the mirror - it's up, but she catches Lito still staring at her.

[RI]

The cat pauses and stares at her before it starts to drink its milk. When it's done, it rubs its side up against her calf and purrs. It flicks its intact ear when she scratches the base of its tail, but sticks around for a little longer before wandering off into the dark.

Riven probes her split lip with her tongue. That only makes it itch.

It's been a long ass time since she wore any kind of makeup beyond lipstick. Ahri apparently stuffed her hoodie with a couple of makeup remover wipes, and that combined with some cautious soaping more or less gets it off, which only shows just how purple her face is turning.

There isn't much ice in her fridge, but Riven dumps the last few cubes of the tray into a bag anyway. She wraps it in one of her three threadbare hand towels, and lies down to put it on her face.

Not one of her better days.

On the plus side, she isn't going to have to choose between testing her landlord's patience and eating next week.

[RI]

"Officer Lito was asking about you yesterday," Ahri says when she's finished with Riven's makeup. Her days off have allowed her to turn a fairly putrid yellowish green. Her boss is gentle about applying it, but her face is still sore and there's no hiding the scab on her lip.

"What about?" Riven can't help but wonder if she's going to have to bail, and if she does, who exactly is going to feed the dumb stray cat.

Ahri shrugs. "She wanted to know where you lived. I told her if she wanted your number that badly she should just ask." She smiles. "Irelia was not amused."

Fuck.

Well it's not like Ahri's going to let her off now.

"I'll deal with it," she says.

Ahri doesn't laugh in her face, but she looks like she's thinking about it. "If you want to," she says.

[RI]

By the time Officer Lito shows up, Riven still doesn't have a plan other than deflect, deflect, deflect. Lito doesn't say anything to her when she sits down, nor does she even look up like she means to. Unfortunately, the place is a little too busy to start up a conversation, especially one as likely to end with Riven being homeless again as this.

The bar is calmer and emptier when Riven goes to switch out the empty tumbler for water, though. Lito doesn't look up from her papers.

"Officer," Riven says. Lito doesn't move, but her eyes flick up to Riven. "Ahri said you were looking for me."

She shakes her head and looks back down at her papers.

That's her cue to back off.

Lito leaves a good fifteen minutes before her shift ends.

[RI]

Riven is not particularly surprised to find the cop waiting outside. She tugs her hood up and heads for the bus stop anyway. Not that she gets far, when Lito steps in front of her.

She presses her cylinder to her throat and says, "You're Riven, correct?"

"Yeah," Riven nods. Her hands clench in her pockets.

She's going to miss her fucking bus and she isn't looking forward to the walk.

The silence hangs. Same shitty old game, a cop fishing for some shit they don't know about by waiting for a confession. Too bad Riven's always been better at obstinate than clueless.

"You have a last name to go with that?" Lito prods.

Riven nods. "Ort," she says. It's what's on her passport, anyway.

Lito's brow furrows, and she mouths the sound slowly. "You're not from around here," she says.

Cooperating. Riven is cooperating. So she doesn't say, what tipped you off. Instead, she says, "I've been here for a couple of years." A minute passes, and she asks, "Did you want something in particular?"

"No," Lito says. "You can go."

Riven nearly bolts.

She makes her bus by about forty seconds.

[RI]

Riven's pretty sure her landlord's gouging her on rent. The biggest upside is that she takes cash. She doesn't really spare much attention for Riven outside of making sure she's keeping up on payments, which is about all that makes the arrangement tolerable.

She hands the envelope over directly on her way out.

It's the middle of the day, and the court is empty. Riven's there a couple minutes, long enough to get her blood flowing, before Akali shows up. The other woman tosses the ball at her, and Riven dribbles idly while she warms up.

"Let's go," she says when she's done, and Riven passes her the ball.

They don't really play a game, sometimes they're passing around imaginary opponents, sometimes Riven's trying to block a shot or sneak one around Akali. Still, Riven keeps track of how many baskets behind she is - twelve today when they call it.

Akali slings a bottle of water her way, and Riven totally fucks up catching it. It doesn't burst on the concrete, but she has to go chase it halfway across the court. Akali's stretching out when she looks back, her shirt creeping far enough up to show the twisting tattoo of a bonsai on her back.

Riven doesn't really remember a whole lot of the one time she got a close look at it, mostly because Akali was trying to crack her skull open at the time. Riven walked away from that with an arm full of holes from a fucking pen of all things while Akali watched, hanging off the bridge by one hand.

(Which of them was more surprised when Akali showed up on this court to find Riven running suicide sprints up and down it, she doesn't know)

(But it was probably Riven when Akali passed her the ball)

The water may be lukewarm, even hot, but her throat's bone dry and it helps slow her breathing. Riven downs the bottle and starts her own stretch routine in the middle of the court. Not that she's tried, but it just seems dumb to get within ten feet of Akali if neither of them has the ball in hand.

[RI]

Riven doesn't mean to look. She doesn't, and honestly she'd rather not know what Lito is working on.

But it's hard to ignore the glossy photograph of a headless man with the Lady Guillotine scar on his back. The body's pale, and the general lack of blood where the head used to be suggests it might have been taken in a morgue. More concerning than that, though, is the date on it. Last week.

Riven nearly drops the glass of water. It thuds onto the counter, and Lito looks up. She can't force anything like a smile onto her face. Instead she turns away, picking up the empty tumbler and ignoring how her nails are turning white from how hard she's gripping it.

There's a rustle of paper behind her, and a moment later Lito's mechanical voice says, "I'm sorry."

Riven turns to meet her eyes. "I should apologize," she says. "Your work is confidential."

The cop shrugs. "I was practically shoving it in your face," she says.

She really was. Riven wishes she could check her collar again, in case it's shifted in the last five seconds. She straightens her shoulders.

"Did you need anything else?"

The cylinder vanishes back into Lito's pocket and she shakes her head.

But for the next five minutes, Riven's neck itches like Lito's eyes are following her.

[RI]

Riven's watching the cat lap at the saucer when it occurs to her that in all the time Lito's been sitting on that stool, she's never once had an autopsy photo with her before. It's not the first photo, nor the first photo of a victim, but it is the first photo of a corpse.

One from her old gang.

Riven believes coincidences happen. That sometimes, someone who tried to kill someone, and someone who tried to throw someone off a bridge run into each other months later. But nothing's a fucking coincidence until it gets proven.

So what is Lito after?

The cat rubs its face against her hand. Riven scratches under its jaw, and it drools on her palm. Maybe half a minute of that later, it steps back, shakes its head, and wanders off into the night.

Riven wipes her palm on her cargo pants and collects the saucer.

She has to suspect. Even if it's just on the basis of good, old fashioned, Riven's the only fucking Noxian for miles. After the shitshow with the minister's daughter, and the subsequent Kinkou purge, most of them got the fuck out.

What did her reaction tell Lito?

[RI]

Elise is bugfuck crazy and Riven prefers to avoid her whenever possible. The problem with this, of course, is that Elise is also one of the only people in the city who knows things and is still willing to talk to her.

She runs a strip club as her, well, day job. Metaphorically.

Riven knocks on her door a little after noon, and is greeted by a blast of cold air to the face. "Come in, come in," Elise says from somewhere out of sight. Not for the first time, Riven wonders just how the door opens.

The figure Elise cuts is exquisitely noble, in a way that reminds Riven of-

And that's the other reason she tries to avoid Elise.

"Riven," Elise says and turns to face her. "What a pleasure." She's holding a burgundy glass about a third full. Exactly as full as every other time Riven's been here. Her lip curls, and here it comes. "Ah, but you used to have such a sense of style."

It doesn't matter.

"It's been a while," Riven says. She keeps her hands buried deep in her toreadors.

Elise brushes a lock of blood red hair behind her ear, then rests her cheek on the palm of her black silk glove. "It has," she agrees. "With all this unpleasantness, I was wondering when I'd see you again."

That... that was free. Riven squints at her.

"Unpleasantness?"

"Don't play coy," Elise clicks her tongue. "It doesn't suit you."

It really doesn't. "The Battalion's back?"

Elise shrugs. "There are some bodies showing up with their mark," she says. "But I imagine you knew that."

"Yeah." Riven has to admit that.

"The Kinkou are buzzing like they are," Elise says. "They've been pruning a little aggressively."

Yeah, this isn't fucking free.

"What do you want?"

Elise circles her, trailing one gloved finger over the scar of Lady Guillotine, from her neck all the way down below her shoulder blade. Where it's supposed to end. Then back up to the elaborate fleur de lis that covers most of her shoulder and half her bicep.

Riven's hoodie being in the way of all of it doesn't seem to matter. Her collar feels like it's strangling her. Her fists clench in her pockets. Elise laughs, deep and throaty, and Riven's skin prickles like something is crawling up her leg. She stays very, very still.

"Your presence at my establishment tomorrow night," Elise says.

"I don't dance," Riven says flatly. And then, after a moment, "I don't strip either."

"Oh no," Elise fakes a gasp. "Nothing so gauche." Her eyes glitter and rake down Riven's body. "Show up at seven. We'll need some time to get you properly dressed."

And then Elise turns back to her window.

Dismissed rings in her ears as clear as if she shouted it.

Riven walks home, pretty sure that once again Elise is the only one coming out of this in the black.

[RI]

Lito doesn't so much as look at her.

[RI]

Riven steps through the door into Cocoon at ten 'till seven. Whatever Elise said, she doesn't have anything to do in the meantime.

Apparently she's expected, because she gets waved on toward the back. She can't deny a bit of suspicion when Elise points her toward a dressing room, but then she did say something about Riven's clothes.

On the plus side, no one's inside waiting for her.

The outfit sitting there tells her exactly what Elise is looking for from her. It's not the light grey slacks and matching vest. It's the black collared shirt with them, cut to bare both the scar tissue on her right shoulder and the ink on her left.

Somehow, Riven is not at all surprised to discover that it fits perfectly. If she didn't know better (and really, she doesn't), she'd think Elise had pulled it from their old closet before the Kinkou burned the house down around them.

She's been staring at the mirror for at least five minutes when Elise steps in. She frowns, clicks her tongue, and steps up behind Riven. She meets Riven's eyes in the mirror, and with excruciating precision undoes the top three buttons of her shirt.

"There," she says. "Much better."

Riven's fists clench. Elise steps away, and Riven turns to face her, crossing her arms.

"So who am I doing tricks for?"

Elise fishes her phone out of her purse. Naturally, it matches her dress - black velvet, red trim, and though the neckline doesn't even tease at revealing her collar, the slit cut between her navel and breasts reveals a swath of crimson silk. She fiddles with it a moment, and then shows Riven a picture of a woman with red hair streaked with green and burning amber eyes.

"This is my guest," she says. "She is the only one you let pass. Unless there is a fire that is actually going to bring the building down, I do not want to be disturbed."

[RI]

But no one else does want in, and Riven spends three fuckin hours standing outside a room so Elise can show off her pet ranking murderer.

"Take the clothes," Elise says when her company has left. Riven doesn't want them, but she can recognize the difference between an offer and a command.

[RI]

Riven buries them under her mattress. Not a hiding spot where they won't be found, but she won't have to look at them and that's good enough for her.

The stray cat looks quite cross when she finally comes back out with a saucer of milk. It meows at her after she places it down. She starts to think the cat isn't interested, and moves to pick it back up before the cat finally starts to lap at the milk.

The cat decides it's done. Its crooked tail brushes against her arm as it leaves.

[RI]

Lito isn't carrying anything with her today. She stares into the shelves of bottles behind the bar while she slowly works her way through her drink.

Maybe twenty minutes later, a woman with short brown hair and electric green eyes sits down next to her. Riven really wants to raise an eyebrow when she orders a black velvet, but doesn't.

Riven stands far enough away that she can't make out whatever the woman is saying, but it's a slow day. Mostly she just stares at the TV (keeping half an eye on the clock).

Right on time, she sets the glass of water down in front of Lito, but the cop places her hand over the tumbler. When Riven pauses, she taps the rim.

"Another?" Riven asks, and she nods.

Huh.

As she's turning away to go fetch that for her, she hears the other woman say, "My daughter wants to know when she'll see you again."

The woman leaves a half hour before Riven's shift ends. Lito doesn't, but she's finished her second drink and Riven refills her water.

She's still sitting on that same stool when Riven leaves.

[RI]

"Hey, Riven," Akali says when she's finished stretching (down thirteen baskets today). She waits for Riven to make eye contact with her before continuing. "Heard some idiot Noxian was showing off at Elise's place the other day."

Aw shit.

"Yeah?" Riven does her best to keep her voice steady. "Sounds like someone's got a death wish."

Akali grunts. "Sure does." She lets a minute of silence sit on Riven's shoulders. "Don't pull that shit again," she says.

When she's gone, Riven pitches the empty water bottle at a wall. It bounces.

Fucking Elise.

[RI]

Riven isn't particularly surprised to find Lito waiting for her before her shift starts.

"Miss Ort," Lito's mechanical voice manages the name much better than most. "Would you mind coming with me?"

Riven shrugs. "Can I tell my boss first?"

"I spoke with her already."

Well shit.

Lito's car doesn't feel like a squad car, that's for sure. And Riven isn't stuffed in the back with a grille between her and the driver. Those put it well above the last time a cop was driving her around.

Riven wants to ask where they're going, but, well, Lito's using both hands to drive. She isn't likely to get an answer. When the car parks in front of a fairly nondescript house, Riven is well and thoroughly lost. For all she knows, they aren't in the same city anymore.

Even after the engine stills, Lito doesn't get out. Riven takes that cue and keeps her ass planted firmly in the seat. Lito's phone beeps, and she fiddles with it for a moment before handing it over to Riven.

It's a picture, pretty unmistakably of Riven, prominently featuring the fleur de lis pattern on her arm.

"Fucking Elise," Riven says.

Lito rests a hand on the wheel.

"Not exactly a crime," Riven says. "Where are we?"

The look Lito shoots her, Riven chooses not to interpret as you are the dumbest human being I've ever met but instead please stop pretending to be the dumbest human being I've ever met. But they're beyond cooperation now. The cop knows for certain who she is (what she was), and sooner or later she'll find out something Riven did and by then she'd better be gone.

"Somewhere private," Lito says.

That was helpful. "What do you want?" Lito hasn't unlocked the doors, and Riven wonders if the child safety lock is on.

"The dead man in that picture wasn't a one-off."

"Found that out." Riven slides Lito's phone into the empty cup holder. Riven's totally clear on what that has to do with her. The mystery is what that has to do with Lito.

"I'm sure you've all done something to deserve it," Lito says. Riven grits her teeth. Probably. But, on the other hand, fuck that. "But that still leaves a murderer running around."

"Sounds like a problem for the police," Riven says.

Lito arches an eyebrow. "It is," she says. "I need to know where your friends are."

"My friends got sent home in little fucking boxes," Riven says, and frames her face with her hands. It's not true, of course, not strictly. Some of them burned.

The cop frowns, taps two fingers against her temple.

"You're lying," she says at length.

Riven crosses her arms. "Maybe you missed it," she says, "but home told the Kinkou where to find us." She fails completely at keeping her voice even. Her back itches. The Kinkou didn't fucking miss it.

"Unfortunate," Lito says. Riven's elbow crashes into the door before she realizes she's moving to take a swing at the cop. She uncurls her fist carefully, presses the back of her hand against the window, and slumps back down.

"Fuck," she says.

Lito ignores her. "Here's what's going to happen," she says. "You are going to go wave that flag of yours around and stay somewhere I can keep an eye on you."

"And what will you do if I don't?"

"Nothing." Lito blinks at her. "I do nothing.

"I do nothing while that picture makes the rounds.

"I do nothing while someone digs up your address.

"I do nothing while you get followed.

"And I do nothing while Ahri has to cover your shift while she tries to find a new bartender."

Fuck.

Fucking Elise.

[RI]

"You've got a friend," Akali says. Riven isn't surprised.

"Cop," she grunts. "Lito."

Akali's eyebrows shoot up. "No shit?" She turns to look at the car. "What's the fuckin hero cop doing following you?"

Riven taps her shoulder. "Seems to think someone might try and kill me." Akali waves, making sure Lito gets a good look at the riot of color that is the Kinkou ink covering her arms from shoulder to wrist. "Hero cop?"

"Course you don't know. She was the first one to find the minister's daughter," Akali says.

Yeah, well, Riven was kind of busy not dying at the time. Explains a couple of things, though.

She passes the ball a little more at Akali's face than necessary. Akali catches it and laughs.

[RI]

Zyra answers the door when Riven knocks.

"Oh," she says, cocking her head. "You're the one from Elise's."

Riven nods. "May I come in?"

"Of course." The door opens fully, and Zyra waves her in. "Would you like some tea?"

"No, thank you." Riven's never seen so many ivy trellises inside before. "How long have you known Elise?"

"Oh, a few months." Zyra's eyes burn into her. "We've been discussing a joint business venture for a while."

She can't imagine what kind of joint business venture Elise could have with the head of research and development at Grove Pharmaceutical.

"Why are you here?"

"Elise wishes to extend a cordial invitation to dinner at her home in-" Riven checks her watch, "now."

"She could have just called," Zyra says, but she's already vanishing into the depths of her home.

Yeah, but as Elise didn't come out and say, fetch. Riven stands in front of the window, staring at the reflection of her ink in the glass.

[RI]

Riven sits in her doorway for an hour, but the cat doesn't show up.

[RI]

The scratching at her door when she kills her alarm doesn't make her feel better about her hour and a half of sleep. The cat shoving its head under her hand and staying there for a good two minutes before it even touches the saucer does.

[RI]

Riven stares at Ahri. Then at the new uniform she's holding. Then back at Ahri.

"Are you serious?" she asks.

Her boss nods. She has the look of someone trying very hard to suppress a smile. "Absolutely."

Riven points at the white slacks and white vest. "It's a bar," she says.

"You had best be careful not to spill anything, then."

She points at the black shirt and emerald tie. "It doesn't button all the way up! Why is there a tie when the shirt doesn't button all the way up?"

"Oh, Riven." Ahri laughs, and then doesn't answer the question.

Riven doesn't bother asking about the lack of sleeves. She's not sure whether she should be blaming Lito or Elise for this.

Probably both of them.

[RI]

Lito doesn't look up when Riven sets the tumbler down in front of her. Honestly, the bar is pretty crowded and she should probably go do something productive. But on the other hand this uniform is Lito's fault.

It takes Lito five minutes to pick up her drink, by which time Riven's crossed her arms and not gone anywhere. She stops with the glass already touching her lips and stares. Riven rolls her shoulders.

Got your fucking flag right here.

Lito sets it down and leans on her hand. She meets Riven's eyes. The corner of her mouth turns up slightly - Riven wouldn't know if she hadn't been staring.

Then Ahri yells at Riven to get her ass in gear.

[RI]

"Get in," Lito says through her open window.

"Day's over," Riven says. "I'm going home."

The cop nods. "So get in."

The cold is creeping into her hoodie. It's not made for this weather, not really, but it's what she's got.

"I know where my bus is," she says.

Lito raises an eyebrow. "You can walk to the bus stop and freeze there for fifteen minutes, or you can get in and be home in twenty."

"I like the cold," Riven says and starts off.

"See you there."

[RI]

The cat doesn't show up.

Which is fine because Lito is invading her space. It takes her all of thirty seconds to decide she's figured out Riven's apartment and she goes back to staring at Riven.

"What do you want?" Riven asks, leaning against her fridge. She keeps her hands buried in her hoodie to hide how they twitch with want to lock the door as soon as Lito's out.

"You live here." Lito says in that flat, mechanical voice that makes it impossible to tell if she's disgusted or astonished. Either way.

"Yeah," Riven says. "And you don't."

Lito blinks at her. "Sooner or later, you'll need to be close enough to monitor at night."

Riven grits her teeth and wonders if it's too late to go back to the her head gets cut off but she doesn't have to deal with this cop plan.

"Your Kinkou friend," Lito says. "She how you survived?"

"No." Well, sort of, since Akali didn't manage to kill her after. But that credit really more goes to Elise putting her up for a week in some abandoned house outside the city.

Lito waits. Riven keeps her mouth shut tight on the rope the cop's giving her. At length, Lito shrugs and walks out. Riven doesn't slam the door on her ass, but does lock it the moment it closes.

[RI]

The thing about, as Lito put it, waving her flag is that Riven isn't equipped to do that. She can't put screws to people the way she did with actual people at her back. Not safely, anyway, though that doesn't seem to matter to the cop.

Also it would be nice to come out of this without giving Lito a reason to snap the cuffs on her right after picking up the murderer.

Unfortunately, legal things that still draw the right kind of attention just kind of leaves her with Elise.

Riven isn't happy, knocking on her door for the sixth time in about two weeks.

"I begin to wonder," Elise says, "if this is how you interview for a new job every time." There's a scent wafting around her place, it takes Riven a moment but is that lasagna?

It's not easy to resist the urge to throw up in her mouth, but Riven manages it.

"We wiped that slate clean a while ago," Elise says.

Riven knows. For all of her crazy, Elise manages to keep track of who owes her how much (Riven is pretty sure Elise owes no one anything).

"I need to find out where they're trying to set up," Riven says.

"I don't know that," Elise says. She swirls her glass.

"But you can find out."

Elise nods. She sits down, crossing her legs at the knee, and drapes her free arm along the back of her couch. "I could."

"So," Riven says, nearly choking on the words, "Let's talk about what you need."

It takes a couple of minutes for Elise to stop laughing, though she at least has the courtesy to hide it behind her hand. "Fortunately for you," she eventually says, "I do not need a new dancer."

Off to a good start so far.

[RI]

For once, Riven is sort of relieved to find Lito's car. She raps on the passenger window, and the it unlocks. The cop doesn't say anything when she gets in. There's a half full cup of coffee in the center console.

"I'm not doing anything illegal," Riven says. "Just some material acquisition." Material and personnel, but Lito doesn't need to know about that second part.

The ride is quiet, but even with all of her attention free to watch the road, Riven loses track of where they are in a couple of miles. Lito pulls to a stop in front of what could be the same house.

This time, though, she gets out. Riven follows suit only when Lito opens the door for her.

[RI]

"My home," Lito says when she steps inside. "Come in."

Riven hesitates just outside. Lito must be shitting her. There's no way this is actually her home. Showing someone she knows to be a criminal, with proven links to a gang that has reason to hold a grudge against her is actually insane. That is what stupid people do. That is how stupid people die.

And Riven seriously doubts that Lito is a stupid woman, cop or not.

Which doesn't explain whose house this is. It is both too neat and well used to be anything but lived in. There's a bowl of mixed change on a table by the door, a potted plant next to it. The soil is dry but the plant is healthy.

Lito steps back into the hall and stares at her.

Riven shrugs and enters. It's not the first time she's been in a total stranger's home, though it has been a while since she was without being there to work. For all that she wishes Elise was, she isn't.

"Why are we here?" Why is she here. Riven follows Lito into the kitchen. The fridge is stocked. Lito pulls a plastic container of what looks remarkably like scalloped potatoes out of it and throws it in her microwave.

"What are you doing for that woman?"

"Nothing illegal," Riven says again.

Lito stands in front of her. Riven has to look down to meet her eyes, but Lito still feels like she's towering over her.

"You are going to be running around with your flag held high and proud," the cop pokes her shoulder. "Either you tell me where you're going, and I follow you, or you don't tell me, and I follow you."

Riven bites her tongue. Both of those options sound like shit. But she's stuck cooperating again.

"Picking up some chemicals," she says. "Don't know what they are or what they're for."

"Narcotics?"

She'd think so too, if she didn't know Elise. Bugfuck crazy though she is, Elise is also obsessive about maintaining a clean slate. "Nothing illegal," Riven says.

Lito purses her lips. "Where from?"

"There's this shitty warehouse. Couple of miles west of the shipyard. Not locally owned and operated."

"You driving?"

"No." Riven shakes her head. She doesn't have a license. Another one of those things that's a bit tricky to get when she's maybe not supposed to be in the country. "Not getting much. A briefcase."

The microwave dings, but Lito stays right where she is. Honestly, this would feel pretty familiar if she wasn't a cop. Riven's pretty relieved that it doesn't.

[RI]

Of all the people to run into, Riven was not expecting Akali. Okay, so her face is mostly covered by a black handkerchief with an acid green skull pattern on it, but she'd recognize that Kinkou ink anywhere.

"The fuck are you doing?"

Fucking Elise. Riven refuses to step back, even though Akali is crowding her. Fucking Elise and her fucking uniform.

"Fetching," she says. The word rakes her tongue on the way out.

Akali shoves her into the door of a coffee shop (Riven gives the menu a once-over and nearly laughs). "Pretty sure we had words about this," she says. There's a rag at her belt spotted with paint stains. Riven wonders what she was doing.

The owner of the shop pokes his head out. Akali points at him, and he disappears posthaste.

"That was then," Riven says. "Before Elise decided to show off for her new girlfriend."

The way Akali talks, Riven's pretty sure she'd be seeing teeth if not for the mask. "And since when do you work for her?"

"Since I found out I needed something from her."

"Yeah? What's she got for you no one else does?"

Riven shakes her head slightly and nods toward the window. Akali twists to look. Lito's pulled off to the side of the street.

"Fuckin cop," Akali mutters.

Yeah.

"Listen good. Most people are still buying the Elise is your boss thing. Most."

Lito'd be happy to hear that. Riven doesn't plan on telling her.

"When someone small and stupid asks you to deal with me," Riven says, "Probably recommend someone else for the job."

The snort Akali lets out isn't pretty.

[RI]

Riven should have been asleep hours ago. Working for Elise sucks, but the real problem is that Lito is on her ass all the time. She's in the black for rent this month, but it's more than she's comfortable with because of the cash she picked up off the big dude.

So it is that at like five in the morning, she slips out of her door without turning the light on.

There's a chirp. She looks down, and there is the stray cat. It chirps again. Riven sighs and goes back inside, pouring the last bit of milk in the carton into a saucer. She puts it down in front of the cat and locks her door.

When she looks down, the cat is sitting next to the saucer, still staring up at her. She meets its eyes for a minute, and then it steps forward to rub against her calf. Riven bends over to scratch it's ear, but when she touches it the cat walks away from her. Once it's well out of arm's reach, it turns to look at her again and chirps.

"Sorry," Riven says and stands up. She turns to leave, the cat chirps, but by the time she's gone five steps she hears it lapping at the milk.

At least someone's getting something to eat today.

She's halfway down the block when she hears a car door open. Her first thought is, don't be Lito. Her second thought is, fucking of course it's Lito. Her third thought is, fucking Elise.

Riven refuses to turn, but she stops and stands still.

"A little early for you," Lito says. Fuck's sake, does the woman not sleep?

Lito is practically breathing down her neck. Riven tries to shove her away, but just gets her arm caught. Her hand trembles, and she clenches it into a fist. She must be too late - when she turns, Lito is staring at her arm.

Then her stomach chooses the worst possible time in the world to growl.

Fuck.

Lito's eyebrow arches. Riven meets her eyes and refuses to blink first. The grip on her wrist tightens, and Riven stays very, very still as she feels her bones begin to flex. She's not going to be taking her arm back by force, and she's not about to show the cop just how little of it she can bring to bear in this moment.

A minute of this, and Lito tilts her head toward her car. "Get in," she says.

Riven knows the difference between an offer and a command.

[RI]

When she steps inside, there's a second in which Riven thinks she's not in Ionia anymore. This place looks like a shitty diner from one of those old black and white movies, and it smells like she always thought they would.

Lito points at a booth, and Riven sits. She knots her hands under the table and stares out the window.

A blue haired waitress whose reflection looks maybe seventeen and is entirely too awake for this time of day drops a pair of menus on the table. "Back in a minute," she says.

Entirely too awake.

Lito snaps her fingers, and the waitress turns. "Oh, officer!" she says. "Your usual, then?" The cop nods, and then stabs her finger at the menu three times, before handing them back to the waitress. "Fifteen minutes," she says and bounces off.

Fifteen incredibly uncomfortable minutes of staring at Lito's reflection while Lito looks straight at Riven later, the waitress comes back with a pair of plates, a cup of coffee, and a cup of water. Lito pushes one over to her, and after a minute Riven looks down.

Three eggs over easy, hash browns, and a few strips of bacon. She stares at it. Lito shoves a knife and fork wrapped in a napkin at her.

Lito's almost done with her plate (french toast, scrambled eggs, and two links of sausage) before Riven picks up the utensils. This is some greasy ass food that is probably going to kill her, and Riven savours every bite.

The cop pays.

[RI]

"Lito," Riven says when she's slouched in the passenger seat of her car. The cop looks at her. "Thanks."

Fishing the cylinder out of her jacket looks even more awkward in a car. She presses it against her throat. "Irelia," she says.

Riven squints at her.

"My name is Irelia." And with that, Lito faces forward and turns the key.

Okay, Riven knew that, but.

Well shit, now she's on a first name basis with a cop. Akali can never find out.

[RI]

The meal goes a long way. Riven's been hungry before, but it's been a long fucking time. She's tried very, very hard to forget. And, well, she hasn't, but her body has.

Ahri notices how tired she is. That's the only explanation Riven can come up with, anyway, for why she's not alone behind the bar. And why Ahri keeps intercepting the complicated orders.

"It won't happen again," Riven says, an hour or so into her shift when they've a moment to breathe.

The look her boss gives her is only curious. "What won't?" she asks.

Riven runs a couple of fingers over the bags under her eyes. "Doesn't matter," she says.

"Good." Ahri nods, and then smiles as someone she's never seen before sits down.

If there's one cocktail Riven could make in her sleep by now, it's probably Lito's. She's made more of some others, but never so consistently. She puts the finishing touch on it as the cop sits down.

When she puts the tumbler down, Lito doesn't so much as look at it. She's staring at Riven. "Did you need anything else?" she asks.

Lito points at one of the bowls of pretzels. Riven slides it over.

(Riven checks a touch earlier than usual, and sure enough, Lito's tumbler is empty)

Instead of her usual files, Lito spends the hours watching the TV above the bar. It's muted, and the reflection in the window isn't clear enough for Riven to make out what's on it. Whatever, though, she wouldn't recognize it.

Still, she kind of wonders. It has the cop's attention. Might be helpful to know.

[RI]

Elise has two things for her: another errand, and a new shirt. Gunmetal grey, sleeveless (of fucking course). Riven stares at it for a minute.

"I can't have my representative wearing the same thing every day, now can I?"

It might be a little late for that. But, whatever, she changes anyway.

[RI]

When the driver pulls to a stop and she gets out, Riven doesn't recognize it at first. It's only when she pushes through the door to the hotel that she realizes she's been here before. On business, back when she wasn't fucking alone in Ionia.

That visit didn't end so well. This is probably a mistake.

She rings the bell anyway. The man who comes out of the back room is unfamiliar to her, and the professional calm when he asks, "How may I help you?" suggests that he doesn't know who she is.

Riven pulls a card out of her vest. "Would you mind telling the guest in room 203 that her ride is here?"

"Of course," he says, and picks up the phone.

And then Elise's luck falters. Down the stairs comes a man with short, black hair that looks like it was styled by rubbing a balloon on it. This one, Riven remembers, and judging by the way he stops, points at her, and chokes, he does too.

Riven steps away from the counter.

Fucking Elise.

He practically falls down the stairs, and tries to tackle her. Riven greets him with a knee to the gut, and the man behind the counter stops talking.

"Please," Riven says, ignoring the gasping from around her ankles. "Continue."

Eventually he does.

Five minutes later, give or take, a woman with pale yellow eyes and shoulder length brown hair steps out of the elevator. By now, the man's gone from curled up on his knees to panting and cursing, but flat on his back.

"Evelynn," Riven says.

The woman nods. Riven gestures toward the door.

Even - especially - when stepping over the man, Evelynn moves with the overwrought grace of someone who wants to be noticed.

Assassins.

[RI]

Evelynn has nothing to say to Riven. It's not a large car, but big enough that Riven isn't rubbing shoulders with the assassin. Riven sits ramrod straight, arms folded, watching the road ahead. Evelynn leans against the other door and stares out the window.

When the car stops in front of Cocoon, Riven gets out and circles it to open the door for her. Evelynn flows out. She stalks into the building, casting her gaze about the few people inside preparing it to open. The curl of her lip says she finds them wanting.

Fucking assassins.

Riven trails her toward Elise's office. She does have to, for a moment, wonder if Evelynn has been here before. Elise's office is not exactly obviously placed.

And then, smooth as fuck, Evelynn turns and knocks on the wrong door.

Guess not.

Riven walks past her, raps sharply on the actual door to Elise's office, and steps aside.

The door cracks. "Enter," Elise calls.

The assassin seems to forget she was ever at another door, even though it's opened and one of Elise's dancers has poked her head out. She shoots Riven a questioning look, and Riven rolls her eyes once Evelynn is past her.

Then she follows Evelynn inside and shuts the door.

Elise's office is lit only by a pair of desk lamps, both of which are wrapped by totally opaque shades so the only thing they really illuminate is the desk itself. The walls are painted a dark color that Riven can't identify - it might be a black or a blue or a grey or, hell, a purple.

"Welcome," Elise says.

Evelynn steps in front of the desk. Riven finds a couch that she certainly hopes hasn't been fucked on, and sprawls over it.

"Your dog could learn some manners," Evelynn says, and jerks her head toward Riven.

"Woof," Riven says. Fetch.

Elise looks at her.

"Might need a new hotel," Riven says. "I haven't been there in a few years, but their service was poor and they didn't take well to the feedback."

It's fairly certain that they also did not take kindly to being thrown in the dumpster when they tried to remove her and hers by force. Or the couple of teeth they lost.

"Well," Elise says. "I wouldn't want to offer my guest subpar lodgings."

"So when do I get to see this thing?" Evelynn asks.

"As soon as my business partner gets here," Elise says. "Riven? Be a dear and give her a ring."

Riven shrugs and leaves her office to go find a fucking phone.

[RI]

"Who is she?" Lito asks.

Riven rests her temple against the car window. "Evelynn," she says. The ensuing silence suggests Lito doesn't know the name. "She and Elise go way back." Near as Riven can tell, they maybe come from the same town. Or maybe they went to school together. Or maybe it's all bullshit and they don't really know each other.

Lito scratches her chin with one of her long, slender fingers for a moment, and then presses her cylinder against her throat again. "Why is she here?"

"Joint business venture," Riven says. "Potential investor."

Investor, possible test subject.

"There was a call," Lito says. "Found another body."

She can't think of anything to say to that.

[RI]

The meal goes a long way, but it's still just one meal. It's a couple of more days until payday yet, and Riven is curled up on her mattress. Her stomach feels like it's trying to chew its way up into her mouth.

She's been awake for half an hour or so when her alarm goes off.

When she opens the door, the stray cat is there. It chirps at her, purrs, and weaves between her legs.

"Sorry," Riven tells it. "I don't have anything for you." Like she hasn't for the past three days either. The cat rubs it's cheek against her shin and circles her once more before wandering away.

Well. The cat did do fine by itself for years before she met it.

Riven's never felt like she's come up short against a pet before.

[RI]

"Heard Evelynn was in town," Akali says and takes her shot. Riven gets one finger on the ball, and it circles the net once before falling off.

"Elise's guest," Riven says. She snags the ball right as it rolls out of bounds, and sets herself to sling it at Akali.

It's a few more trips up and down the court before Akali says anything else. "She breaking into the murder business?" Riven bounces the ball off the backboard, and Akali taps it into the net. She counts that one as even.

"Would be the first I've heard of it," Riven says. "Sounds like it looks that way, though."

Akali grabs the ball and holds it against her hip. Riven takes a moment to fan herself with her shirt.

"Tread lightly," she says eventually. "Your name's gettin around."

Lito would be thrilled.

"I know how to learn from my mistakes," Riven says.

She catches the water bottle. The breakfast bar hits her square in the face.

[RI]

The crash of her door wakes Riven. She bolts upright, reaches out automatically for the bat that isn't by her bed. Someone yelps, and Riven hits the wall next to her closet. There's rustling, a curse, and then the dull thud of a body on tile.

When she peeks around the corner, Lito is kneeling on someone in her open door, her hand still braced on his head while the other fishes under her jacket. She produces a pair of metal handcuffs and clamps them around his wrists.

Lito looks up at Riven, sea green eyes meeting hers for a moment, before she tilts her head toward Riven's door. The set of picks is still in the lock.

The man doesn't look Kinkou. He lacks the air of... well the air of having a home. He hasn't shaved in days, leaving him with a patchy, mangy beard. His hair is full of leaves and twigs, tangled and matted, with what looks like clumps of mud here and there.

He doesn't look familiar.

Nor does he look like the sort of man who could catch eight people unaware. Riven flinches and huffs as she steps closer and catches a whiff of him. If nothing else, they'd be able to smell him coming.

Lito finishes fiddling with her phone, and slips it into her pocket. She digs her voice out.

"Do you know him?" she asks.

Riven shakes her head. "Doesn't look familiar," she says.

"Can you think of any reason he might want to break into your house?"

Is that even a real question?

"No," Riven says, and cocks her head to emphasize the scar tissue on her neck. "I haven't the slightest."

Lito stares at her.

"Are you going to get that out of my home now?"

"Someone's on the way to collect him," she says. "You might want to get dressed before they get here." Riven looks down. Oh, yes, of course, she's wearing only a tank top and shorts.

She pulls her hoodie on and slouches on her couch.

"You can sit down if you want," she says. Lito doesn't.

[RI]

There's a week in which she's free of Lito, seeing her only at Ahri's bar. She takes a couple of risks to build up a safety net of cash. She doesn't stop by Cocoon at all.

Then Lito knocking on her door wakes her.

[RI]

Lito looks like a woman who rushed out the door. One of her hair clips is missing, her scarf is off center, and her shirt is untucked only in the front.

"Come in," Riven says, and steps aside. Lito blows past her to stand in the middle of her apartment and tap her foot. Riven closes the door. "I take it he wasn't the murderer you were looking for."

"No," Lito says. "Found another body last night."

"Did anyone actually think it was him?"

Silence. "He started ranting about Noxians having killed his parents," she says at length. "Some hoped."

Some.

"Why are you here at six?" Riven yawns, combs her fingers through her hair. Lito doesn't say anything, and when Riven looks again, she's biting her lip. "We saw each other earlier today," Riven says.

"I was concerned," she says.

Well. "Of course," Riven says. "Bait isn't much good if you aren't there to see it taken."

Lito doesn't have a response. She bows her head, and without the clip the curtain of her ink slick hair is thick enough to hide half her face.

"Look," Riven says, pausing to yawn again. "You've told me. Either stay here, or close the door behind you, but I'm going back to sleep."

[RI]

Holy shit, Riven thinks when she wakes up properly. Did she really invite a cop stay and watch her sleep?

Lito isn't in her apartment. That, at least, is a relief. If she's remembering things right, at least Irelia had the decency to leave.

[RI]

Riven knocks on Lito's window. The cop rolls it down, and Riven looks away after thrusting the cup of coffee in. "Here," she says. Black, with one cube of sugar, the way Riven remembers Lito taking it at that diner.

The cup is taken from her hand, and a moment later the sound of a sip reaches her.

"Thank you," Irelia says.

She shrugs. "You didn't have to do that," she says. Riven would never have known the difference if Irelia had waited until her shift to talk to her.

Not that it would have changed anything, but.

But she didn't leave Riven hung out to dry.

[RI]

Elise actually seems happy to see her. Not in a personally thrilled way, but with the satisfaction of the answer to a problem showing up in her net.

"So good to see you again," she says.

"Figured you could use some time." Riven shrugs. "Got anything for me?"

"I've learned something," Elise says. "But I'll need one more thing from you first."

She waits.

"Just a delivery. You won't even have to go far, it's for that cop you've got following you."

What.

Of course Elise knows about Lito stalking her. That was never in doubt.

The box Elise slides across her desk is plain cardboard, sealed with clear packing tape. It's fairly flat, but wide and long, not unlike a portrait frame. "Do tell her I send my regards," Elise says.

[RI]

Lito doesn't open it when Riven hands it over.

[RI]

"Well done," Elise says. Riven's been gone for like, five minutes at most. Insulting.

"And?"

"Your old friends are holed up in a passenger ship at a private dock. It's run by some idiots the Kinkou don't care about."

"Got a name for me?"

There's no warmth in the smile Elise shoots her, and her eyes glitter in the dark. "It's registered as the Queen Maeve. I think you'll find you're familiar with her captain."

Fuck.

[RI]

The list of people Riven knows who could swing a ship isn't very long. There's a couple of names on it she doesn't want to think about, and a couple that would do their best to kill her on sight. A matter of pride.

Unfortunately, she probably needs to show her face there now.

[RI]

Riven walks through the front gate. There's security, of course, but it seems to be largely in the form of surveillance cameras. The one living, breathing guard she sees lets her pass when he catches a glimpse of her shoulder.

It isn't hard to find the Queen Maeve. There's a couple of docked ships, but only one of them isn't done up in fresh paint. Riven stands at the head of the pier and stares at it.

The ship looks empty. Riven wonders how many of them are even left.

Slowly, she raises one hand, and waves at no one. She pauses, curls all but her last two fingers, and raises an eyebrow. After a moment, she shrugs, nods, and turns to leave.

Akali is going to be fucking pissed.

[RI]

Lito's parked outside a block and a half away. Riven slips into the passenger seat like she owns the car and the driver.

"Did you find anything?" she asks.

Riven shakes her head. "No one there. Enough security footage to pin me there, though." Lito pulls out onto the road. "Might have someone knocking on my door."

Whether that will be to denounce her as a coward (and kill her), or praise her ability to survive being sold out (and kill her or drag her back) remains to be seen.

It is also, of course, possible that no one will ever check it, or whoever might doesn't recognize her, or they just don't care. It's possible this trip is a colossal waste of time, and she needs to go figure out some other way to attract a murderer's attention.

"As long as it's a knock and not a phone call," Lito says. Riven turns to stare at her, but she's looking at the road.

Did Irelia just try to make a joke?

[RI]

It's Lito's fault anyway. She's the one whose chosen to stake out Riven's life by herself. She's the one who's making Riven pull this stupid shit to try and trap a murderer.

That doesn't really make her feel better about Lito being stuck in her car while Riven's asleep.

(And it's self-interest too. If Lito falls asleep in her car and Riven ends up dead on her watch, that's obviously a problem)

So Riven pulls her hoodie on, and in bare feet walks down to Lito's car. She raps her knuckles on the window, and it rolls down a moment later. She sticks her head in. Even in this no fucking light, Riven can make out the bags under Irelia's eyes.

"Come up," she says. Irelia tilts her head and stares at her. "You're tired," she says. "If you're going to fall asleep, doing it in your car isn't going to help me. At least that way if someone kicks my door in, it might wake you up."

There. Easy.

And if Lito chooses not to, while Riven's burning alive or whatever, she's not going to have to wonder if maybe she should have asked.

The metallic clunk of the door opening is apparently all the answer she's going to get.

"Couch," Riven says, pointing at it, when they're back in her apartment. Irelia looks at her. "Bed," she says, pointing at it. It abruptly occurs to Riven that they're facing each other. Clearly, she needs to point both of them at the walls. "Pick one."

Irelia sits carefully on the couch. She prods the stain on the middle cushion. It's been dry as long as Riven's had it.

"I'm told it was wine," she says. Presumably that's why she got it practically for free. "It's not blood."

That appears to be good enough for Irelia, because she lies down on the couch facing the door. Her eyes close, and her hand falls off to brush the floor.

Well then.

[RI]

Lito isn't there when Riven wakes up. It's for the best. Riven couldn't settle down to fall asleep for more than an hour after Irelia passed out on her couch. She's even closed and locked (but not bolted) the door behind her. Considerate for a cop.

Riven checks her closet, but finds nothing out of place. Not that she'd thought Lito would steal anything, but maybe rifle through her shit. Admissible evidence or not.

When she puts the saucer down for the stray cat, it refuses to look at her. It finishes, meows, and circles her without ever looking at her or making contact.

She stretches one hand out, and it deigns to run its tail across her palm.

[RI]

Akali doesn't have the ball with her. Riven stands way the fuck back down the court. The Kinkou isn't obviously armed, but that doesn't really mean anything. Not after how close it was last time.

"You're kind of dumb," Akali says.

Well what the fuck did she expect?

Riven shrugs. "You say that like it's a surprise."

"It's not," Akali says. "Just disappointing."

That kinda stings, actually. "Fuck knows disappointing you is the last thing I want to do."

"Maybe not." Akali shrugs. "It should probably be pretty far down the list though."

Riven gets it, she does. Akali is probably the reason the Kinkou have been ignoring her as long as they have. And thanks to Lito, she's fucking all that work up. Well, okay, credit where credit is due, thanks to Lito and the shithead murdering people.

The shithead who might or might not be Akali.

"So here's the thing," Akali says. "I don't think you're actually dumb enough to go crawling back to the same old fucks who sold you and yours out." Riven meets her eyes. "But you're trying real fuckin hard to look it. And it's working."

Shit. Sure, that's the goal, and Riven knows full well it's easy to fall back into the same old steps. Still, she'd wanted...

Well, at least Akali believes in her. Sort of.

"You've really only got two options here," she says. "One, you knock it the fuck off, and give up on whatever it is that you're trying for. Two, you don't, and I'm gonna pretend we never met until you unfuck your head."

Something about the way she says that suggests Akali doesn't believe that'll happen.

Riven's eyes flick to Lito's car, and she keeps her mouth shut. Akali's done for her what she can, or what she's willing to. No excuse or explanation is going to change that. She probably knows the terrible very sad story anyway.

"Thanks," Riven says and watches Akali turn and walk away.

She should really do something, she thinks eventually. Not just stand alone in the middle of the court. Riven glances at the back wall, but can't bring herself to go run suicide sprints. Instead, she mimes taking a shot.

(In her imagination, she misses, because Riven's never made a basket from this far behind the three point line. In her imagination, the ball falls like a fucking rock on the rebound and doesn't bounce.)

[RI]

Ahri takes one look at her and says, "No."

"I'm sorry," Riven says. "I don't follow."

"I said no," her boss says, crossing her arms and planting herself in between Riven and the door. "You're not getting behind my bar like that."

Like what?

Her confusion must show in her face, because Ahri points at the mirror. "Look at yourself," she says. Riven does. All she sees is her ink and her scars and this stupid fucking tie over a shirt that doesn't button all the way up.

"What about me?" she asks.

Ahri gives her the dirtiest look she's ever seen on her boss's face. "You're so mad I'm surprised you got here in one piece."

Her reflection blinks and frowns. Riven doesn't see it. That's just... her.

"I'm coming back in ten minutes," Ahri says. "Take them, take some deep breaths, do whatever. But either you're calming down, or you're going home."

But.

She can't. She needs.

Riven can't go back home again to stare at her fucking walls right now. Not today. Her fingernails bite into her palms.

"See that? That right there. Not off to a good start." And Ahri shuts the door behind her.

Deep breaths it is then.

[RI]

In the end, Riven only feels more like shit when Ahri comes back. She stands behind the bar, barely shaking cocktails and taking twice as long as usual to figure out change.

When she goes to take Lito's tumbler, the cop catches her hand and stares up at her. Riven waits for a moment, looking at Lito's hand on her wrist.

"Did you want another?" she asks at length. Lito shakes her head.

But it's a little longer before the cop lets go of her.

[RI]

The idiot stray cat spends a minute purring and rubbing up against her arm before it touches the milk. Riven scratches its flank absently. It butts its head against her side.

She doesn't open her eyes or bother picking her head up off the door frame.

The cat bolts away abruptly. Riven reaches out blindly and sticks her hand into a saucer that's still half full of milk. She stares at that for a moment before noticing Lito's feet.

"You scared the cat," she says. She spills some more of the milk when she stands up to go rinse it out.

Riven's toweling the saucer dry when she notices that Lito's still outside her door staring at her.

Deep breaths.

"Come in," she says. Lito does, watching her face every step of the way. Eventually she's out of the way, and Riven reaches over to push the door closed. "Bolt it."

She turns to walk away and change without waiting to see if Lito will. She misses the sound of the bolt closing at some point between fully dressed and having thrown all her clothes into the hamper (full enough now that she probably needs to go fucking do laundry when she wakes up).

Lito is carefully not looking at her. She's staring at the bare wall behind Riven's couch. Riven snorts and finishes pulling her tank top over her head.

"I'm dressed," she says, already half under her sheets. Lito looks at her, then looks back away before taking up the couch. Whatever.

Fucking cop.

Riven doesn't have any trouble falling asleep tonight.

[RI]

Lito's gone when she wakes up. Her door isn't bolted. The cat chirps at her from the corner of the building when she opens it and pokes her head out.

"Come on then," she says.

[RI]

This is a dumb idea. The court is more Akali's place than hers. But hell, if it is the Kinkou - or Akali herself - something dumb that rubs her presence in their face is kind of the plan. So here she is to run some suicide sprints.

She's a couple of sets in and paused to breathe and stretch when she hears Lito's door shut (okay not necessarily Lito, but really who else). Riven keeps her eyes closed, wipes sweat from her forehead, and straightens.

Deep fucking breaths.

For a moment, after she opens her eyes, she wonders if she's having a heat stroke and hallucinating. Because there Lito stands, in a jersey and shorts so goddamn new they still have the creases in them from the packaging. She has a basketball that looks like it's never so much as seen sweat pinned against her hip.

And for the first time Riven can remember, Irelia isn't wearing her scarf. It lays bare her neck, and the hole in the hollow of her throat. She watches Riven's face for a moment.

Finding, apparently, something that she can deal with, Irelia sort of sidearms the ball at her. It veers off wide on the first bounce, and Riven has to sprint to catch it.

She passes it back, slow but sharp, and Irelia just sort of sticks her hand in the way and blocks it. It rolls to a stop, and she picks it up. She looks back at Riven, chin held high.

Riven jerks her head at the basket. "Take a shot," she says. Irelia looks at the basket and back at Riven. "Free throw." Riven points at the line.

Irelia stands on it, looks at the basket, and - wow. Riven isn't good at basketball, but that was kind of painful to watch. The ball hits the top left corner of the backboard, and nearly makes it over the fence into the street on the rebound. Riven chases it down.

The biggest problem here is how tense Irelia is. Riven doesn't really know how to fix that, though. She steps in front of her, and ignores the tension in Irelia's shoulders way more successfully than she does.

"I'm pretty shit at this," Riven says. "But here. Feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees a bit before you take the shot." She holds the ball out, and Irelia takes it after a moment's hesitation. Riven circles behind her and repositions her hands on the ball. If anything, Irelia's shoulders get tighter.

"There's a line from your eye to the basket," Riven says. "The ball needs to ride that." Irelia lifts the ball, and Riven puts her hand on top of it to lower it a couple of inches. "You still need to be able to see the basket," she says.

Riven can't think of anything still wrong with Irelia's form - other, of course, than the fact that she could probably bounce a quarter off the woman's traps. "Okay," she says. "Just sort of pretend you're a spring and release that. Keep the ball on the line, hop a bit or whatever, straighten your arm, and flick your wrist."

She gets a raised eyebrow, and then Irelia takes the shot. The ball bounces off the rim and Riven has to swat it out of midair before it smacks Irelia in the face.

"Better," she says after recovering the ball. "Do that again. Except, relax first."

A couple of hours later, Irelia can sink about two of three shots, and Riven's learned something new.

Irelia's hair is exactly as soft as it looks.

[RI]

Irelia straight chugs two bottles of what has to be warm water pulled from her trunk. She cracks a third as Riven stares, and pours a third of it over a palm sized square of towel. She lays it over the hole in her neck, tilts her head back, and air whistles through it.

She looks at Riven, digs a fourth bottle of water out of her trunk, and rolls it across the roof of her car. It is just as hot as Riven thought it would be.

She downs it anyway.

[RI]

The knock on her door comes as a surprise. It's not Irelia, she's borrowing Riven's shower at the moment. She looks at the door, and goes down the list of people who know where she lives that she doesn't want that to be. Of course, with Irelia inside, that list goes real fast from most of them to every single one.

She considers not answering, but really that's just liable to piss whoever it is off and make things shittier. Riven opens the door.

It's Zyra.

She is not on that list at all. The fuck is Elise playing at?

"What does Elise want?" Riven asks.

Zyra looks about as happy to be here as Riven is to have her.

"To talk to you in person," Zyra says.

"Did she say what about?" If Elise didn't, and probably she didn't, whatever, doesn't matter. But if she did, well, it'd be nice not to walk into Elise's territory completely unprepared for once.

"No."

Riven hums. "Okay," she says. "I'll drop by."

And then she shuts the door in Zyra's face just before the water turns off. Riven bolts the door and walks to the one and only window in her apartment to stare at the wall no more than two feet beyond. She hears the door to her bathroom close. She doesn't look back until Irelia taps her on the shoulder.

Irelia wears a shirt that does a pretty good job of being two sizes too big for her without drowning her in it. She's got some kind of... bib thing around her neck, covering the hole. Riven glances down - beneath a pair of jeans that look like they cost about half of what she makes in a month, Irelia's feet are bare.

Even like this, fresh out of the shower with hair slightly frizzed out, Irelia looks every inch the cop she is. Somehow it's not half as much a shame as it should be.

When Riven looks her in the eye again, Irelia jerks her head toward the door and gives her a curious look.

"One of Elise's - friends," Riven says. Friend is maybe not the right word, but hell, it's close and it's about the only one Riven's kind of confident in. "Came to call me back." Bit more effective than shouting her name, really.

Irelia crosses her arms. She mouths something, but Riven can't figure out what.

"Going to have to drop by her place later," Riven says. Elise would send Zyra on her day off.

Whatever Irelia thinks of this, none of it shows in her face. She nods slowly, and she stops looking at Riven.

Riven steps around her. She needs to rinse off, at least, before seeing Elise.

[RI]

Irelia is not the last person Riven expects to see in front of Elise's door, but she's pretty far down the list. Most of the people below her aren't even in the country. She knocks when she sees Riven, and opens the door to wave her inside when Elise beckons.

The fuck?

Riven carefully doesn't look at Irelia once inside. Whatever she wants with Elise, Riven doesn't need to know. She intends only on finding out what Elise wants, committing as little as possible, and getting the fuck out. Irelia's business is her own.

But what the fuck could she need from Elise?

She crosses her arms and waits. Elise swirls her fucking glass. She isn't looking at anything in particular - sure as fuck not Riven or Irelia or even Zyra sitting beside her.

A full minute of waiting later, it's either continue not thinking about Irelia's presence or be the one to say something. And both of those options suck, but one of them gets her on the way to being not in Elise's den.

"What do you need?" she asks. Elise knows as well as she does that Elise is the only one in the black here. Riven's paid up for everything she's gotten.

"Your old friends aren't very happy with you," Elise says. No shit. "One of them came around asking about you."

The price of Elise being the only one around willing to talk to her. Shit. Riven wonders what Elise charged for that.

Also, and this is really the important part, what Elise is going to charge for this heads up.

"Okay," Riven says. But there Zyra is, and the corner of her lip pulls down. "What do you need?"

Elise smiles. "Oh, I don't need you to dance, don't worry about that." This is not helpful. "I just need you to avoid Ahri's for a couple of weeks."

Riven stares at her. "I can't do that," she says. "I work there. The job is kind of a necessity." She likes to eat. Likes to pay-well no, not really, but the bills aren't optional and she likes not getting kicked out.

"You will," Elise says. "Because you don't."

Bullshit. "The fuck I don't." Riven relaxes a bit. If Elise is this desperate, then she has shit all. Things are fine.

Elise shrugs. "Phone's on the table if you want. But I would like to talk to your friend here."

"I'm not going to insult Ahri," Riven says. "When you've figured out what you actually want, you know where to find me." She turns and leaves, and doesn't slam the door. She makes it all the way outside, gets her hood up, and then Irelia taps her shoulder.

That didn't take her long. "You find out what Elise wanted?"

Irelia shakes her head and unlocks her car. She opens the passenger door and holds it while she turns to look at Riven.

"I know my way home," Riven says. Irelia shakes her head and taps her watch. "It's really not that late."

She gets the most dramatic eye roll she's seen in ages, and Irelia digs in her pocket for her voice. "I'm thirsty," she says. "We're going to Ahri's."

Like fuck.

"Not my kind of place," Riven says. "I'm sure you know the way."

Irelia crosses her arms and doesn't move. Riven glares back for a minute, and then sighs. She doesn't look at Irelia while she gets in, slouches, and stares at the mat between her feet. Irelia closes the door.

Because Lito is still a cop and Riven's still stuck with her.

[RI]

Riven doesn't recognize the bartender, but that's not really a surprise. It's not like she stops by Ahri's for fun. Whoever she is, though, she doesn't have Irelia's drink ready by the time she sits down.

"Just water," Riven says when the bartender asks what she wants. She gets a sideways look. "Is Ahri around?"

"Yeah," the bartender says. Riven wouldn't, so thank fuck the bartender isn't her. "Don't think she really has time though."

"Just wanted to check my schedule," she says.

"And you couldn't call?"

She shrugs. "I was in the area," she says. Irelia doesn't react to the lie. It's weird to see her from this side of the counter. Riven stands, and Irelia looks up at her. "Shouldn't be long," she says.

Ahri's as busy as ever, and doesn't so much as look up when Riven opens the door to her office. Riven stands inside, hands buried in her pockets, staring at the painting on the wall. Her boss knows she's there, and will get to her when she gets to her.

A few minutes later (for all the time Riven's spent in this office, she still hasn't figured out what the painting is supposed to be) Ahri breaks the silence. "Riven. It's your day off. What do you need?"

"I stopped by Elise's," Riven says. "She wasn't happy. Said something about me not working here anymore."

Ahri rolls her eyes. "Elise is full of shit and you know it."

"You would have told me yourself," Riven says. Ahri might be half as crazy as Elise, but she isn't a shit boss. She's looked shithead customers in the eye while they screamed about service and told them to get out of her bar.

She smiles in a way that hints at her teeth.

"I expect you back here Tuesday," Ahri says. Then she looks back at her paperwork, and Riven takes that as her dismissal.

Irelia's drink is missing, and she's two-thirds through a cup of water (the only cup of water in evidence). Riven checks the clock, she's been gone for less than fifteen minutes. "You really were thirsty," she says, sitting down. Irelia shrugs and empties the cup.

She sets her keys on the counter. Riven stares at them.

"And Ahri?" Irelia asks.

"Expects me to be on time."

[RI]

The thing is, though, Elise has a fucking point and Riven knows it. It's not like Riven's never done the whole, wait for someone at their job and break their knees thing before. But it works, works, and works because everyone needs to eat.

So the plan is the same as it used to be. Just be better.

Riven has a pretty good track record on that one.

[RI]

Irelia isn't on her couch when she wakes up, but she's not alone. Riven sits the fuck up, paying no mind to her ratty tank top or her lack of pants. The fact that Emilia LeBlanc is sitting on her couch takes priority over that.

Ma'am comes to her lips by reflex and Riven has to clamp down on it. "What do you want?" she asks.

LeBlanc smiles. She's claimed Riven's shitty couch, sits on it like a throne. "You've attracted some attention," she says. "Well done."

What?

It's easy to keep her mouth shut. LeBlanc is a scary fuck, and Riven's buried more than a couple of bodies at her direction. And, once, dug up a body while she watched.

But this is her shitty little home, and though she doesn't have much to defend in it, LeBlanc is Not Fucking Welcome here. "What do you want," she asks again.

LeBlanc leans forward. Riven wishes she had a bat.

"Patience, soldier," she says, as though she'll be getting around to telling Riven something. Ever.

"Not anymore," Riven says.

"Rudeness," LeBlanc says, raising her cigarette holder to her lips, "is not going to get you what you want."

"I want you gone," Riven says. If LeBlanc wanted her dead, Riven wouldn't have woken up. And LeBlanc also wouldn't be in the country.

"What you want," LeBlanc says, "is for those who fucked you to suffer."

Not a hard guess. But while Riven does want to see certain people's heads on pikes, more than that she wants this to not be her problem anymore. "And I'm sure they'll find their way here."

LeBlanc shrugs. "I did." She taps cigarette ashes onto Riven's floor. "I can find the way out."

Riven bolts the door behind her. Her back pressed against it, she stares at the tiny apartment.

So what did LeBlanc leave here?

[RI]

Irelia knocks. To her credit, she doesn't try the knob before Riven unbolts it and opens the door.

Riven stops and stares, because there Irelia is, in the middle of the day, once more in the red and silver jersey. She tilts her head. Riven considers the furniture she hasn't yet moved and looked behind, under, and inside.

But Irelia is right there, arms bare and the strap of her black sports bra peeking out from under the jersey.

"Just a minute," she says.

[RI]

Riven doesn't have to correct Irelia's form more than once or twice. She's still at two for three on getting the ball in the hoop, and all from the free throw line, but the smile she gets when Irelia sinks it cleanly is entirely too cute.

Also, fuck. Irelia is a cop. This isn't ok.

But on the other hand, Riven really would like to see some more of that smile.

[RI]

Riven isn't surprised when Ahri mentions a boat mysteriously sinking while docked. It's standard Evelynn. And she should know better.

So should Elise.

Irelia gives her a look. Riven doesn't have an answer for her.

[RI]

Inside a week, Irelia's folders have some new pictures. Riven doesn't know them as well, but she still knows how to recognize Kinkou ink when she sees it.

[RI]

The bags under Irelia's eyes are growing ever deeper. Her mouth has settled into a hard line, and she's going through her drink faster. Riven finds herself hovering. And while her service is prompt and unerring, it's also clearly not what she's thinking about.

Ahri notices.

So, offered the choice, Riven takes a night off.

[RI]

The knock on her door proves to be Irelia, right on time. She raises an eyebrow when Riven answers it in a tank top and sweatpants. Not exactly her going to work clothes.

Irelia digs her voice box out. "Laundry build up?" she asks.

Riven shakes her head. "I'm not going in today." At Irelia's frown, she adds, "Ahri encouraged me to take the night off. You don't have to stay, I'm just gonna-" she jerks her thumb inside and lets that be the end of her thought.

After a moment of staring at her, Irelia turns and walks away. Riven watches her unlock her car, open the rear door, and stick her head inside. Momentarily, she emerges with a folder and locks up again.

(Riven is staring and for a second she thinks she really ought close her door like it's been that way since she walked off but Irelia is already looking back at her it's too late oh goddamnit)

So Riven leaves the door hanging open, heads over to her fridge and pulls the saucer out of the sink. Irelia closes the door behind her. Riven has to open it with the back of her hand, not as easy as the door still being fucking open would be.

The stray cat isn't there, but Riven puts the saucer down and pours some milk in anyway.

Irelia's hauled her cheap folding plastic table over in front of her couch. Unlike the bar counter, this she feels free to cover in paper and glossy photographs. Riven's probably seen more dead bodies in one place, but never in her apartment.

Riven sets a glass of tap water on the stand next to the couch. She turns on the lamp - it's already dusk out - and turns off the overhead light. Irelia looks up at her, eyes entirely too green in the lamplight.

"Taking a nap," Riven says, and falls onto her bed.

[RI]

It's not a long nap - less than an hour. Riven wakes up to find Irelia passed out on her couch, still sitting up. Her neck is going to fucking kill her when she wakes up. She gets up slowly, looking at the cop. She's draped her scarf over the arm of the couch, exposing the hole in the hollow of her throat. Her jacket's hung on the hook over Riven's hoodie.

Her neck is going to kill her when she wakes up. And, there's no real reason for that to happen.

So Riven tears the bedding off, throws on a clean set of sheets and pillowcases, and moves the folding table aside. Irelia isn't quite as light as she looks, but honestly she looks like she weighs about half of what Riven does, so that's not really a surprise.

Once she's on Riven's mattress (not in her bed not in her bed not in her bed not in her bed), Riven carefully removes her shoes - thankfully laceless. Once Irelia's plain black socks are bared to the world, she drapes a blanket over her, only bringing it up to her breasts. The woman has a hole in her neck, after all, best not come close to covering that up.

It doesn't take much to avoid reading Irelia's papers. Whatever formal Ionian they're printed in is well beyond Riven's command of the language, and the handwriting, goddamn. Riven isn't even sure that is Ionian. She does look through the pictures though - none of the ink is Akali's.

She'd be pretty fucking surprised if it was though.

Riven doesn't think much of the clatter outside her door, not until the sound of her lock turning registers. Before it's clicked open, she's behind it. The door opens slowly, quietly. Fuck, she really needs to go get a bat.

When the toe of a boot peeks around the door, Riven slams her shoulder into it. There's a thud, a grunt, and a loud curse-

She throws the door open, drops her knee under their ribcage, and wraps a hand around their fucking throat.

Her eyes adjust to the night.

Holy fucking shit.

"Katarina," Riven breathes. Katarina doesn't.

[RI]

"Fucking idiot," Katarina hisses. Riven's still sitting on her, but she isn't forcing her knee into Katarina's diaphragm anymore.

"The fuck are you doing here?" Riven whispers back.

"Trying to find you, shit head." She's pretty sure if she didn't have her feet firmly planted on Katarina's arms, she'd have a couple of knives in her right now.

Well, she succeeded at that. "Congratulations," Riven says. "You found me."

There probably isn't a whole lot of time to figure out what to do with Katarina. It's not that late, sun already set or no.

"I can fucking see that." She's getting louder now. "Get off me."

Never heard that one before.

Riven doesn't.

"Like hell." Riven can't see it, not really, but she doesn't need to see to know Katarina's rolling her eyes.

"I'm alone. I'm not here to kill you." That... yeah that might be true. If she's not alone, then whoever's with her is pretty fucking worthless. And if she is here to kill Riven, Katarina isn't going to be alone.

After a minute, Riven stands and steps back to give her some space. Her heel lands in something cold and wet, and she looks down to find she's stepped in the milk. It's not in the saucer or in the cat like it's supposed to be.

"You spilled the milk," she says.

"The hell do you have a saucer full of milk outside your door for anyway?"

Riven looks at her. She doesn't remember Katarina being stupid. "Sure wasn't for your benefit," she says. She grabs the saucer, wipes her foot off on the mat, and sets it in the sink. Riven uses Katarina's jacket to dry her hand off when she steps inside.

"What the fuck?" Katarina demands.

Riven ignores her, yanks Irelia's jacket off the hook to throw over the table, and pulls her hoodie on.

(Irelia is still asleep, thank fuck)

"What do you want?" Riven asks.

Katarina steps toward her, tilts her head to peer around the corner at her bed. "Who's that?"

"None of your business," Riven says. Her arm shoots out and bars Katarina's way. She looks up into Katarina's eyes. They burn in a way she hasn't seen in years.

"You have-and it's not my business?" Katarina's hand digs into her hoodie, drags her close. Her breath on Riven's face is hot and fast. Her other hand hovers just above her arm - just above the ink there.

The laugh Riven has to force out of her throat feels fucking hollow. A two beat ha-fucking-ha. "You know full fucking well-" Riven swallows it. Katarina's - exactly what Riven's apparently always been to her. She grits her teeth. "Fuck off," she spits. "I don't care what you want. Get out."

"I'm not leaving," Katarina growls. "Not until you listen to me."

Riven seizes Katarina's forearm, squeezes until she feels the bones flex, until Katarina looses her grip on Riven's hoodie. She shoves her away. "Five minutes," Riven grinds out. "Tick fucking tock."

"You showed up at our dock and then my fucking boat sank," Katarina says. She waits, like Riven's going to confess or beg forgiveness or something.

"Tick tock," Riven says.

"You weren't that dumb before." Katarina folds her arms. "You don't look like you have brain damage either." Her eyes flick back to Riven's bed. "At first."

"Tick."

"Quit that fucking shit." The poison she knows so well is back in Katarina's eyes. "Who did it?"

Finally a question. "Evelynn's in town," she says. "Sounds like her kind of stupid." But still. "You show up in Kinkou country, you start dying, and your first thought when your base gets fucked is me?"

"They never showed up at my dock." Katarina crowds her.

Riven shakes her head. "Get the fuck out."

"Five-"

"I changed my fucking mind when you decided to be too stupid to live," Riven spits. "Get out. Or I'll fucking throw you out."

Katarina throws her arms wide. She must have four inches on Riven, and she's as fit as she's ever been. Riven hasn't fought anyone scary since Akali. Maybe she can't. "Try-" but Katarina bites it off, drops her arms to her sides and closes her eyes. "Fine," she says. "I'll leave."

Before Riven shuts the door behind her, Katarina says, "You're alive." She sounds like she doesn't believe it.

"Yeah," Riven says. It's hard, but she manages to force out, "I'm-you are too."

[RI]

Irelia's sitting up. Riven picks her jacket up off the table and hands it to her. She digs inside the pocket and pulls out her voice.

"Who was that?"

Riven shrugs, sits down on the foot of her bed. "Nobody," she says and buries her face in her hands. But that's not true, and Irelia is looking for a murderer. "Noxian. I used to-" work with her, fight her, care for her, kill with her, sleep with her "-know her."

The bed sinks with a new weight beside her. She turns when Irelia's hand touches her shoulder. She's too damn close, her eyes are too damn green, her lips are too damn pink, her hair is too damn soft-Riven freezes, halfway through tucking that very hair behind Irelia's ear.

Her eyes are too damn green.

Irelia leans closer, finishing the motion for Riven.

Her eyes are too damn green.

Riven can't breathe.

Her eyes are too damn green.

Riven can't-

Her eyes-

Her lips are even softer than they look.

Irelia pulls away first, and if not for the hand on her cheek, Riven would follow her. She remembers how to breathe, but not very well. She can't. The warmth of Irelia's lips won't leave her.

Oh fuck, she kissed a cop. Irelia smiles. Fuck, she wants to do it again.

"What?" Riven asks. Irelia's thumb strokes her cheek. Her heart races.

"Do you feel better?" Irelia's mechanical voice manages to sound warm. No, Riven doesn't. She's still lost, still confused, still scared, and now she also wants to kiss a cop.

But she does. Because she's lost, confused, and scared, but she can still feel Irelia's lips. She's not alone. And she wants to kiss her cop.

"Yes," Riven says.

Irelia nods and stands up. It's only when her hand pulls away that Riven realizes how much she's been leaning into it. It's only when Irelia steps away that Riven realizes her own hand has been lingering on Irelia's arm.

"What," Riven asks again, "what was that?"

The couch protests as Irelia sits on it. She's chosen to sit directly across from Riven, it leaves them close enough that if Riven leaned forward at all she could touch Irelia's knee. She tilts her head.

"I wanted to kiss you," Irelia says like that explains anything. "Did you like it?"

Yes. Yes she did. No shit she did, and Irelia has to know that.

Irelia leans forward and touches Riven's knee. Thankfully, she's worn sweatpants, because Riven has no idea what she'd feel like if Irelia's hand were on her bare leg. "Do you want to do it again?"

What Riven wants is to kick Irelia out of her home and never see her again.

What Riven wants is to throw Irelia into her bed and find out what she looks like when she comes.

What Riven wants is to get some fucking sleep.

"Yes," she says. Irelia pats the couch next to her. An invitation. To her own couch, in her own home.

Riven takes her up on it. The smile Irelia wears on the court is cute. This smile is not cute. It's reserved. It's mysterious. It's seductive. It's working.

Her eyes are too damn green. Her lips are too damn pink. Riven can't decide which to look at.

Irelia's hands land on her shoulders. Riven doesn't jerk, doesn't tense, but only because she's already tied up in knots. Slowly, firmly, patiently, Irelia strokes her from neck to elbow. Her breath starts to come easier, her shoulders loosen, and Riven unclenches her fists.

Only when Riven meets Irelia's eyes and stays there does she lean forward and kiss her. Riven rests her hands on Irelia's waist, only tertiarily aware of Irelia's arms draped around her neck.

Irelia's lips are just as soft as she remembers.

[RI]

Riven's stomach rumbling is what makes Irelia stop kissing her. Over the past half hour, she's inched her way into Riven's lap. Now, when she leans back, Riven's first thought is to pull her back flush against her.

Her eyes drop when Riven's stomach reminds them again that it does, in fact, exist, and is empty. Her lips go taut, but the dimple in her cheek betrays her.

It takes a third growl and Irelia trying to stand up for Riven to pick up that something is going on that isn't Irelia kissing her. She pulls Irelia close again, not okay with that. Irelia rolls her eyes and picks her voice up again.

"We should get some food in you," she says.

Riven wonders if Irelia has a chocolate center, and if so how many licks it will take to get there.

"Put some pants on," Irelia says. This time she successfully stands up, though Riven hooks a finger into her belt to keep her close. "Come on." She takes Riven's hand and tugs.

On second thought, she is actually pretty hungry.

Riven never thought she'd have to seriously consider the hash browns or cop question.

It's close. Really close. So close that how close it is decides it.

Irelia turns away when Riven stands to change.

[RI]

The diner looks just as out of place as she remembers. This time the waitress stops before putting the menus down.

"Same again?" she asks. Riven wonders if she's somehow the only waitress here, this is a far cry from the other shift. Irelia nods.

Riven waits until the waitress leaves before asking, "What was that all about?"

Irelia tilts her head and gives her that same enigmatic smile. She rests her chin on her hand. Riven doesn't frown at her, but she thinks about it. Irelia seems content to sit in silence and soak in Riven's attention - she can't quite bring herself to glare either.

She's just as happy to eat without explaining herself either. Riven concedes to the warm plate and lets it rest.

"I was fine on the couch," Irelia says.

Yeah, probably. Riven could have just turned her so she wasn't going to wake up sore. She could have just not cared. She could have woken her up.

"You looked like you needed it," Riven says. She folds her arms.

That goddamn smile.

"You did too."

Fucking cop. "That doesn't mean anything," she says.

"How long did you know her?" It's a real shitty attempt at changing the subject. But there's that cop in her face. The smile's gone.

"Six years," Riven says. Longer than that, if she counts the first time she had to clean up after Katarina.

Irelia nods, doesn't blink. "Is she the one stirring things up?"

No. That's Elise, apparently having lost her fucking mind. "Maybe," Riven says. "If it's not her, it's someone she brought with her."

It still feels bad, pointing Irelia at Katarina. Like wiggling the knife in her back. Riven inspects her fingernails.

"Name?"

"Katarina Du Coteau," Riven says. She takes a swig of water to try and wash the taste of it out of her mouth. "Don't know what she's going by here."

Irelia clicks her tongue. Riven spreads her hands flat on the table. Deep fucking breaths.

She's watching and Irelia's hand coming to rest on hers still surprises her. Her fingers rub small circles on Riven's wrist.

"What," Riven barely manages to force it out. "Do you want?"

"You." Her head snaps up. Irelia is smiling at her again. There's cop in her face, the way she looks at Riven. Somehow it's not the threat experience whispers it should be.

"Can't have your bait going missing," Riven says. Her mouth is bone dry.

Irelia shakes her head. "I'll take care of you," she says.

"I don't need protection," Riven says.

"That isn't what I said."

[RI]

Riven hopes that she hasn't totally screwed up her sleep schedule in one night. She manages to wake up long before noon - before Irelia has even left her apartment. Before Irelia has even left her bed.

It takes Riven a minute to figure out how to fight her way free of the comforter she's wrapped herself in to cushion the floor. She aches more than she remembers from sleeping on the floor a year ago. Time is the best anesthetic. Or she's getting older.

Or softer. There are differences between basketball and taking a bat to someone's knees.

Riven starts when Irelia sits up, stretches, and her neck goes off like a chain of firecrackers. She stares for a minute, wondering if she should be concerned, and then looks away. Her tank tops aren't exactly skintight, and on Irelia they hang very, very loose.

She stares at the window, right up until the moment she realizes she can actually make out Irelia's reflection in it. Riven closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. Shit.

(Closing her eyes doesn't help as much as she'd hoped, that last glimpse of Irelia seems to be seared in)

Even though she hears Irelia closing in, the hand on her shoulder surprises her. Irelia's grip keeps her from turning to look. Her blood quickens as the cop slides the strap of her top off her shoulder, running her fingers over the fleur de lis scar.

That's more than enough to expose how fucked her back is, though.

Riven grits her teeth and waits. One finger traces the undamaged tip of the Lady Guillotine, the iconic shape of the blade, the mount to the long staff. And down those couple of inches to the edge of the damage.

Her touch lingers at the edge of the pocked, stringy mass of scar tissue. Riven opens her eyes and looks at Irelia's reflection. Her gaze remains locked on Riven's back.

If there's pity in her eyes, Riven doesn't recognize it.

"What do people do this early in the morning?" Riven asks.

Irelia looks up at her, raising one eyebrow.

"I've heard of this thing called breakfast," Riven says. "Are you hungry?"

The smile and shake of Irelia's head she gets as a response might be a no, but... but from the shake of her shoulders, it could be a laugh. Irelia closes the last step between them, and Riven turns her head to her. One of the cop's hands braces on her shoulder, and she pulls herself up enough to kiss her cheek.

Then Irelia turns and walks to her bathroom. The sound of water running starts up.

"Was that a yes?" Riven calls.

One arm pops back out of the door and gives her a thumbs up.

[RI]

Riven insists on choosing where to eat this time. It is, of course, her idea, and this place in particular she wants to share. As far as places to eat go, it's the most hole in the wall hole in the wall Riven's ever been in. The only sign for it is halfway up the staircase to the entrance.

Inside, there are exactly six tables, half of which only seat two people. One of the tables actually blocks the door from opening fully. The fireplace in the corner only has a loose chain curtain for a screen. The counter the till is on also has a sink, and where the peninsula meets the wall the paint is suspiciously fresher, with low hanging cupboards above it.

Riven is not entirely sure this is a legally operated business. It feels kind of like she's actually walked into an apartment that someone sells food out of. Neither is she sure that anyone else has ever come here - she found it by accident.

(Also, she's a little surprised that it's open, she's never been here this early)

When she rings the bell, someone from deeper inside shouts, "Seat yourself."

Irelia's eyebrows have very nearly climbed all the way into her hairline. Riven remembers a pretty similar reaction herself. Riven reaches over the counter, grabs a menu - the only menu they seem to have - and finds the table with the least graffiti on it. She pulls out one of the chairs, and pats the back.

The way Irelia sits down suggests she doesn't trust the chair to not collapse under her. She ducks her head to inspect the bottom of the table while Riven circles it to the other chair. She sits back up, apparently satisfied that there's no cockroaches hiding beneath it.

She sets the menu down facing Irelia. It's handwritten in nearly illegible chicken scratch Noxian of all things. There are no prices on the menu, everything on it costs the same - or everything on it Riven's ordered costs the same. Irelia glances at it for about three seconds, and then sits back and folds her arms.

Riven decides not to order anything made with stomach.

[RI]

She's never watched Irelia leave before. The cop stops at her car when they get back from breakfast. Her change of clothes is still not the neatly pressed usual for her - creases where the folds were give it away. She wonders how long it's been in the car.

Riven stands at the passenger door, arms folded. Irelia unlocks the car, opens her door, and pauses. She can't think of anything to say with Irelia's too damn green eyes burning into her, so Riven closes her eyes.

A mistake. The only thing she can think of so blinded is the curve of Irelia's breast, bared by Riven's ill fitted shirt.

Her eyes pop open, but the mental image glues her tongue to the roof of her mouth. The only things coming to mind are ones Katarina used to bark at her:

Why are you still here?

Fuck off already.

We're done here.

You've got what you came here for.

I'll throw you out.

And, years later, whispered into her ear with a hand in her hair and an arm around her waist -

Come back to me.

Riven waves across the roof instead. Irelia mirrors the motion and gets into her car. The engine rumbles to life, and Riven heads for her door. The stray is nowhere to be seen.

It's not much of a surprise to find Katarina inside. Somehow, at this point, it seems pretty inevitable.

(This is still her fucking home right?)

"Katarina," she says. "You're in my fucking home again."

"She's a cop," Katarina says - there's no anger in her voice, just the cold analysis she always claimed to hate about her sister. It isn't a question. "She why you're alive?"

"Sure isn't you," Riven says. "Fuck off."

"Traitors will be traitors," Katarina spits.

Fucking hilarious. "Why are you still here?"

Katarina's eyes flick to Riven's arm, the ink hidden by her long sleeve. "I'm not," she says, and blows past Riven. The door slams behind her.

Fuck.

[RI]

Evelynn doesn't knock on her door, she's just casually waiting outside when Riven opens it. For fuck's sake. Maybe she should move. Evelynn crooks a finger and slinks off toward a waiting car.

Whatever. If Elise has figured out what she actually wants, Riven can give her a few minutes. She scribbles a note - Elise wants to talk - and leaves it pinned between the door and frame.

[RI]

"Elise," Riven says. The car ride proved long, quiet, and full of Evelynn pointedly disregarding her. It has not left her in the best mood. "You look like something's wrong."

She does. Elise's glass is missing. Her gloves cover only her hands, and her dress is replaced by a sharply cut black suit and red silk blouse. Her makeup is heavier, thick black lines that make her eyes look like they glow. Where she usually stands fluid and relaxed, she now cants forward, prowling her room.

"Katarina Du Coteau," she says. "You know her."

Riven's eyes flick toward Evelynn. "Knew," she says.

"Where is she?" The overhead lights are off, the only thing letting her see is the noonday sun in the window. Elise stands in front of it, casting her in shadow.

"Hell if I know," Riven says. "She broke into my place and we threatened each other."

"Think. Where would she be?"

"On her fucking boat," Riven says. "The one y'all sunk."

The sound of Evelynn's heels draws her attention. She's taken a couple of steps closer to Riven, though she's pretending to inspect her fingernails in the dark.

"Where else?"

Riven rolls her eyes. "Some shitty hole in the ground. Unless those idiots that owned the dock are even stupider than I thought."

"They aren't. You know her. Where would she go?"

"Last I knew, she hadn't set foot here. If you weren't asking, I'd have guessed she came to you."

It's Zyra that steps forward. She comes out of fucking nowhere on the same kind of silent steps Katarina was wont to. She steps in front of Elise, her hair glowing in the light.

Whatever they say, Riven can't hear. In the end, though, Elise turns back toward the window, and it's Zyra that dismisses her.

"Tell Officer Lito we still want to talk," she says as Riven closes the door behind her.

[RI]

Riven turns in time to catch a flash of brown hair before the needle sinks into her neck and ice floods her veins.

[RI]

Waking up feels shitty. Riven's face is wet and she can't move her arms. It takes her a few minutes to figure out that she can't see because her eyes are still closed. Her mouth is bone dry.

She opens her eyes and tries to blink away the blur. That helps, though it's a minute more of her vision slowly clearing before she figures out who it is sitting at the table. She probably should have been able to guess, between that long brown hair and that particular acid green.

She doesn't even manage to produce a croak the first time she tries to talk. Riven closes her mouth and tries to swallow. Her mouth feels like dust and cotton. She coughs. Her throat feels like it tears.

Akali glances over. "Oh. You're awake." She stands up and walks over. Riven coughs again, and she grabs a tube from Riven's shoulder and holds it to her lips. "Drink," she prompts.

Riven nurses it. It tastes like water. Akali lets go and steps away.

She lets the nozzle fall from her lips and coughs again. It doesn't feel great, but she doesn't feel like her throat's bleeding this time. "The fuck?" she asks, only managing to mouth it.

"Nothing personal," Akali says. "You're just, you know, bait. Your girlfriend's being a pain in the ass."

Riven's lip curls. "Kind of taking it that way," she grinds out. "Who?" Her wrists have a ball of zip ties binding them to the headboard. It doesn't look like she's bleeding, but she can't feel her hands.

"You got more than one?" Akali tilts her head. "Huh, you fuckin the cop too? Nice."

Fucking Katarina.

"Isn't gonna fuckin work," she mutters. Her mouth still feels like she gargled some sand. She turns to get hold of the nozzle and sips at it again.

"Maybe not," Akali says. "You should probably hope it does though."

Shit.

The problem with ignoring Akali is that, tied to the bed, there isn't a whole lot else in the room. The walls are a bare, bleak beige, and the only furniture in the room aside from the bed looks like the folding table and chair Akali's reading her newspaper at.

"I take it this isn't your place," Riven says. Akali looks up and arches a brow.

"You don't recognize it?" She points at the window. "That jog your memory?"

Riven cranes her neck to look. It's just the cityscape in the afternoon sun, and there's the-

Oh.

"Well," Riven croaks. "Guess that explains the pants." She looks back down at her exposed knees and the ragged edges of her now shorts. "You know, Katarina wasn't here."

"She's alive," Akali agrees. "But your old bosses knew."

She can't argue the point. The thing is, though, Irelia - of all people - will know damn well too. The hero cop who personally pulled the minister's daughter out of depraved Noxian clutches. Like she won't find them in the same fucking house.

"How long was I out?" Riven asks.

Akali shrugs. "Grabbed you yesterday."

Well that's one missed shift.

The door bursts in, and Akali is standing and has the table half lifted to throw before it bounces off the wall. She puts the table down when she sees the blond man, though she stays standing and stars at him.

"The fuck are you doing here?" she asks.

He ignores her, stomps over to loom over Riven. He bares his teeth in a snarl - jagged and sharp. His breath smells like rot. "Like my teeth now?" He spits.

Riven stares.

"Or maybe you need a closer look." He leans in and snaps his teeth. Riven's leg twitches, but she can't get it up between them. He laughs.

Then Akali grabs his shoulder and shoves him into a wall. "Get out."

"She doesn't need to be intact," he says. "She'll do just the same without a finger or two. Or a leg."

"Fuck off, Varus," Akali says. "I don't give a shit."

He sneers, but leaves - lurching out on a stiff right leg. Akali stares at the door well after it closes.

Riven remembers how to breathe.

"Figured he was dead when we sunk his ass in the harbor." Fifty pounds of cinderblock and chains should have kept him at the bottom. "You all pull him out or is there some kind of secret trick to breathing water?"

Akali shrugs without looking at her. "Wasn't there," she says. "The shit was that about his teeth?"

"When we were cleaning up," after the shitheads snatched the minister's daughter, "I told him he didn't have fangs to bare at me." And then she took care of that with the bat.

"Fuck," Akali says. "Do you know how little fun it is to cut someone's head off after he's chewed on it?"

From the way she's fingering that ice pick, Riven's gonna guess not much.

[RI]

Akali takes a bag from a tall dude wearing a purple hoodie. She claps his shoulder and says, "Thanks."

It smells like fast food. Looks like it too, when she unwraps a hamburger and dumps a bunch of fries on the table.

Riven's stomach growls. She closes her eyes and pretends she's asleep.

[RI]

Akali doesn't sleep and Riven can't. The zip ties pinch her wrists, and when she rests her weight on them it feels like they're going to cut her.

By the middle of the night, though, the only sense she's tired in is her shoulders. And the bone-deep boredom of staring blankly at Akali's back for hours. And the sort of lightheadedness that means her body hasn't accepted it's not getting fed.

Eventually, Akali turns to face her, arms folded over the back of her chair, and says, "So. The cop."

Riven doesn't know what she wants, and isn't particularly inclined to give anything to her. She arches an eyebrow.

"How'd you get into her pants anyway?" Akali smirks. "Does she go for bad girls with a tragic past? Does she want to fix you? Or is she just fucking you because it's the closest she'll get to fucking the ones who almost killed her?"

That doesn't sound much like Irelia at all.

"Does she tie you up and whip you? Is our dear hero cop an honest to god sadist who gets off on hurting you? Is your pain her pleasure?"

"No." Riven doesn't mean to say it, but it slips out between clenched teeth anyway.

Akali gives an exaggerated frown. "Shame," she says, and shrugs it off. "Woulda been funnier that way."

She fucking sucks at the whole, nothing personal thing.

[RI]

When dawn reflects off the next building over, Riven's still awake. A little less lightheaded now, though she's lost the will to lift her arms, and her wrists hurt. She's watching Akali flip cards in some kind of solitaire, like she has been for about four fucking hours.

The door opens silently, latch already busted. Riven blinks slowly, and nearly misses Varus crossing the room in about two steps, and slamming a vase into Akali's head. It shatters, and Akali hits the table.

"Stupid fuck," Varus spits at her. Then he turns to Riven.

Her blood quickens. Varus looms. He grabs her jaw and smiles, baring his teeth. "I'm going to kill you," he says. "It's going to hurt."

"Try harder," Riven says, her voice a touch higher than normal to keep it steady. "You might manage to scare your son." His smile vanishes. "Oh right," she says. "We killed him."

He lunges as if to bite her face, and Riven twists and drives her knee into his side. Her wrists scream. Varus snarls, something buzzes, and he tears a short knife from his belt, drives it into her thigh.

Riven's scream chokes itself in her throat. He uses it to force her leg flat, and rocks it back and forth. Riven can't breathe.

"I've spent three years thinking about this," Varus hisses. "I'm going to enjoy it." He tears the knife out of her leg and digs the point into her cheek. "You get to watch," he growls, "But you only need-"

And then Akali buries the ice pick in the side of his head. Varus goes limp, the knife cuts its way down her cheek.

Akali presses a hand to the side of her head. She's bleeding. "Fuck," she says. "Should have seen that coming." She digs her phone out of her pocket and prods at it. "Fuck," she says again. She walks over to the window and pitches the phone out. "Nothing personal, right?" she says.

Riven's willing to take it a little less so when Akali pulls a black handkerchief with an acid green skull pattern and tries to stem the bleeding.

"Doesn't feel like he got your femoral," she says. "Wouldn't bet on that knife being clean though."

[RI]

Irelia doesn't have to kick in the door. It's still open. Akali steps away the moment she appears, bloody hands open and over her shoulders. Irelia's eyes dart from her, to the corpse, to Riven where they stick.

"I heard a scream," Akali says. "Found this asshole looking like he was gonna torture her to death or something. Got in his way."

Her gaze never wavers from Riven, but Irelia cocks her head.

Fuck.

Akali's Kinkou. Either she spends about thirty seconds in jail if Irelia arrests her here, or she relaxes with her needs catered to for a while and then walks anyway. The only thing that comes of that is someone asks who the fuck Riven actually is.

And, Akali is the one voice in the Kinkou that said, ignore her, she's more trouble than she's worth for years. That's personal.

"Yeah," Riven says, though her breath hitches. She meets Irelia's gaze, watching Akali out of the corner of her eye and ignoring the other cops entering. "She kicked the door in, and... yeah."

This feels like a fine time to pass the fuck out. She does.

[RI]

Riven wakes up in a hospital to the weight of Irelia's head pillowed on her stomach. Carefully, she tucks her hair behind her ear, and stares at Irelia's face - at the deep, deep bags beneath her eyes, and her chapped, bitten lips. Her thumb strokes her cheek.

It takes an embarrassingly long time to notice the redhead standing at her window.

"Katarina," Riven says.

She sneers. "How fucking cute," Katarina says. "Have to get myself checked for diabetes."

"Good thing you're in a hospital." Irelia's hair is soft and cool to the touch. "What do you want?"

Katarina looks back out the window. "Doesn't fucking matter," she says. She tosses a key at Riven, nearly hitting her in the face when she fails to catch it. Some kind of kindness, that. "You were right," she says. "About Evelynn."

Riven stares at the key, vaguely surprised to find it free of blood.

"I took care of it."

Fucking assassins.

The light reveals a set of silvery scars that Riven doesn't know. Katarina crosses her arms, and does a pretty fucking good job of hiding the flinch. Years are the only reason Riven can see it.

"You should go back," Riven says. "Tell 'em this ain't a viable business venture."

She heads for the door. "Yeah," she says, and she sounds older and angrier than Riven's ever heard her before. "There's fucking nothing for me here."

Her hand stills in Irelia's hair. Katarina's right.

"Kat," Riven calls, the nickname coming easy. She pauses, her hand on the door. "I'm glad you're alive," she says.

"Fuck off," Katarina says. And then, quietly, as she opens the door, "You too."

Then she's gone, and Riven's alone with Irelia asleep on her. She closes her eyes and lightly runs her hand over Irelia's hair.

[RI]

The nurse has all the bedside manner of a rutabaga, and Riven appreciates that.

She reminds Riven that she's being released today by saying, "You're finally out of my hair." When Riven asks about her bill, she says, "The boss said it was taken care of."

Also she throws Riven a crutch instead of sticking her in a wheelchair.

When she limps her way toward the lobby, Riven pretends very hard that she's fine. That she wasn't thinking, maybe Irelia would-

Irelia has her job, and putting food on her table is her priority.

The glare of the sun off of traffic is blinding in a way it wasn't through the window of her room. Riven squints and shields her eyes with her free hand. She really needs to find a map, figure out where this hospital is.

Before her eyes have finished adjusting, a hand settles on her shoulder. Riven twists to look at it, and it trails down her arm to rest in the crook of her elbow.

She looks up at Irelia, and blinks away at the warm sting in her eyes. Irelia leads her over to her car and opens the passenger door for her. Riven's ears burn, but she slides inside.

Irelia pulls out into traffic, and once she's settled into her lane, she reaches over the center console and slips her hand into Riven's.

Fuck.

Riven squeezes her hand.

[RI]

When Irelia pulls over and comes to a stop, Riven knows exactly where she is. It's just, it's not her apartment. It's Irelia's house.

Irelia opens Riven's door and holds her hand out. Riven takes it, and Irelia draws her to her feet. She leaves the crutch inside, Irelia half carries her to the front door. Once Irelia gets her door unlocked and the both of them inside, she sets Riven down on her couch.

She leans down and presses a kiss to Riven's lips. Irelia's aren't as soft today, but Riven doesn't care. She threads a hand into Irelia's hair and clutches her close.

When she breaks the kiss, Irelia remains close, her forehead resting on Riven's.

"This is your home," Riven breathes.

Irelia produces her voice box. "You're staying here until you're healed," she says.

She doesn't suppress a smirk. "Is that so?"

She almost misses the way Irelia's lips twitch down. That flat, mechanical voice says, "Please."

Riven kisses her, soft and quick. "For you."

[RI]

There is the minor problem of Riven's clothes all being in her apartment. Irelia borrows her key and leaves after putting Riven in her bed.

(in her bed)

Riven gets up when Irelia's gone, but only to open the window. Once that's done, she curls up beneath the sheets again. The pillow smells like Irelia.

She doesn't sleep, not really, she's slept enough. But she does lose track of time, luxuriating in the warmth of a bed that's actually comfortable. Eventually, once she hears Irelia stop out front, she sits up.

A minute later, a black and grey tabby with half an ear missing and a crooked tail alights on the windowsill. It looks at her, chirps, and curls up.

Irelia enters her room, looks at the cat on the windowsill, and looks at Riven. She holds up a white shirt that was clean, but is now covered in cat fur. Riven laughs. Irelia arches an eyebrow at her, and she doubles down on it.